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“That’s Crap,” McGrew Tells Fuego Del Mar Owner After Accusation of Business Unfriendliness in Flagler Beach

| June 14, 2013

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Joy McGrew was in no mood to leave unanswered another broadside against the city's attitude toward business. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Joy McGrew was in no mood to leave unanswered another broadside against the city’s attitude toward business. (© FlaglerLive)

Joy McGrew had enough.

The Flagler Beach City Commissioner had enough of hearing business owner after business owner, restaurant owners especially, carp and moan about how the city is too restrictive, too business-unfriendly, too concerned about parking or noise or dogs when commissioners feel they’ve bent over backward to accommodate those same businesses—most of which are thriving, incidentally—while also having to contend with parades of residents carping and moaning about the city not being forceful enough about its parking and noise and other ordinances designed to protect their quality of life.

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It’s the oldest story in Flagler Beach, that balancing act commissioners are perpetually performing, like politicians on a tightrope, with businesses on one side and residents on the other.

So when Fuego Del Mar Restaurant owner Nicolas Kimball, who was objecting to a parking plan attached to his restaurant’s entertainment permit, accused the city of essentially saying to people, “we’re going to allow you to do good, but we’re not going to allow you to do that good,” McGrew let him have it.

“I think that’s crap,” McGrew said, 45 minutes into a discussion of Kimball’s Fuego Del Mar permit at Thursday’s city commission meeting. “All we ask you to do is follow the rules that everybody else is asked to do, and if that means find 12 parking spaces on your properties to meet our code, that’s what you need to do.” She didn’t stop at that. She termed his charge offensive, she grew displeased at his interruptions, and she asked him not to put the commission in a place to play favorites with businesses, only to have to then defend the indefensible.

It was a tense, brisk moment that resonated with the background noise of recent flare-ups over Johnny D’s and Hurricane Patty’s and memories of other tugs of war involving the Funky Pelican and Oceanside Grill over various issues, among others. It was also an occasion for McGrew, with her colleague’s silent assent, to set down a marker against repeated accusations of business unfriendliness. She did so sharply and unapologetically.

The issue involving Kimball and Fuego Del Mar revolves around the outdoor entertainment permit Kimball was seeking to have live music on the second floor of the restaurant. The city isn’t objecting. The issue was laid out before the Planning and Architectural Review Board on June 4, which unanimously recommended approval of the permit—with conditions, among them that Fuego Del Mar secure a formal lease agreement for an adjacent parking lot and that 12 spaces be properly lined and spaced.

Kimball has that lease in hand. It was signed in February. But he doesn’t want his permit to be contingent on it: the lease can be revoked on 30 day’s notice either by him or by the landlord, though it’s not likely to be any time soon. I just don’t want to have any contingencies on my outdoor entertainment license based on a piece of property that I don’t own, which I think is fair,” Kimball said. “We were going to acquire the lot but now it’s not feasible because the price went up $250,000.”

Nicolas Kimball (Fuego Del Mar)

Nicolas Kimball (Fuego Del Mar)

The lot belongs to Angelo Cinelli, who acquired the property at 600 South Oceanshore in 2004 under his LHP Scales company’s name for $680,000. The Flagler County Property Appraiser has the land currently valued at $196,400.

Commissioners were perplexed by Kimball’s request. He’d agreed to the review board’s recommendation on June 14, lease requirement, parking plan and all. Nevertheless, Kimball pressed the issue, which then led into commissioner—and resident—concerns over the merit of the outdoor entertainment permit itself, and the first duel between Kimball and McGrew.

“I will tell you right now,” McGrew said, “I’m not for at all you having any kind of entertainment on the second floor, because you don’t have s sound barrier that—”

“I do,” Kimball interrupted.

“One side, west? What happens to north, south and east? And wind? That’s my concern,” McGrew said. She mentioned the recent confrontations over Johnny D’s and Hurricane Patty’s, two businesses from whom she said the city asked for compliance without getting it. “It’s been a nightmare,” McGrew said. She was appreciative of the efforts Fuego del Mar was taking, but still apprehensive of the history of the issue.

Kimball said it’s the license holder’s responsibility to comply with the ordinance. If he doesn’t, he risks losing his license, “so it doesn’t behoove me not to be a good neighbor. The only thing that benefits me is to be a good neighbor,”  he said, especially since he wants those 400-some people in his neighborhood to come to his business and spend their money there. “I have no desire to disturb any of them at all. It’s bad for business, Number 1, and at the end of the day that’s really why I’m here.”

One of those neighbors was not convinced.

“On more than the one occasion that Nick admits to, Michele Burpeau, a former business owner and resident at 602 South Central, said, “I personally, and this is my evidence, noticed and heard outdoor entertainment loud enough that I could hear it in the back of my house, with the windows closed, and the air conditioning going. So it was disturbing to me that before even a permit was applied for, that the rules were being broken. And again that was more than one occasion.”

David Laffitte, a resident of 614  South Central Avenue, said he was happy with Fuego Del Mar’s improvement over the previous business there, but was also skeptical of the city’s willingness to make its rules stick. “It’s important that these ordinances be enforced so the quality of life be maintained here,” he said. He also had issues with what he called “a crazy parking plan. It should never have been allowed.” The plan was criticized for poor design and inconveniences on people parking their cars.

Kim Carney (© FlaglerLive)

Kim Carney (© FlaglerLive)

Commissioner Kim Carney was not keen on connecting the parking plan to the entertainment permit, but she made her position clear about the noise issue. “I feel that you’re going to either make it or break it, and if you can’t self-control, and you can’t self-manage this, then you will be out of the entertainment business, because your community around you will make sure that happens,” Carney told Kimball, who agreed. “So I personally can’t withhold a permit because of the location of a place that is in a commercial and is in an acceptable area. You have to choose how you want to play ball in that neighborhood.”

Kimball was granted a closing statement of his own after the public comment segment ended. That’s when he made his accusation as part of his larger interpretation of what had been said in discussions starting at the review board meeting.

“What I felt was being said was, we’re going to allow you, and whether the music brings people in or deters people, you never know,” Kimball said. “You might not like Peter Frampton, I might love him, he might like Kid Rock and I might hate him. That could deter some people to come to my restaurant. Some people hate fiesta music. We need to get away from, as a community, from saying to people, we’re going to allow you to do good, but we’re not going to allow you to do that good, because that’s what drives, that’s what creates that non-business-friendly mindset for the people that might want to bring infrastructure and support and growth and financial resources to our community. So that’s one issue.”

He then turned to the question of parking, saying the city was looking at it the wrong way: limited parking means the community is thriving and helping to pay for such things as the city’s attorney and the city manager. “So when we take this outdoor entertainment idea and we turn it into, well, we don’t want him to do that good because he doesn’t have a parking or we might have people backed up, what we really needed to say is, we did a great job as a community, and we knocked it out of the park, and now we have people that want to come to Flagler Beach, we have people that want to spend money and invest money in this town, and improve where not only where they’re living but where they go to visit. And that’s it, as far as I have to say.”

“I think that’s crap,” McGrew shot back after a pause. “All we ask you to do is follow the rules that everybopdy else is asked to do, and if that means find 12 parking spaces on your properties to meet our code, that’s what you need to do, and it doesn’t mean park it in the sidewalk so people have to walk out on the road to get around it. It doesn’t mean knock out a back fence wall in contingency to go into another parking lot that you may not have next year. So for you to sit there and say that I want everybody to do good but I don’t want you to do that good is crap.”

“Not you personally, not you at all,” Kimball said.

McGrew: “OK, I’m sitting up here Nick, and you said it to me, so I take it personal, and it is my community—let me finish please,” McGrew said as Kimball was trying to cut in. “All I’m saying to you is, you had it in black and white, you came in front of us a year and a half ago and said you’re going to do this, this and this. You lost $10,000 because you couldn’t give us what we needed to pass our audit to give you $10,000. Now, you can’t open your second story because you wouldn’t give whatever you needed to give to get a permit to be able to have, not have handicapped upstairs.”

Kimball: “That’s not true.”

McGrew: “All I’m saying Nick, it’s not fair for you to sit up there, to stand there and say, that we don’t want you to do good.”

Kimball: “It wasn’t even the commission.”

McGrew: “All right, I’m going to ask you one more time. Please don’t interrupt me.”

Kimball: “OK.”

McGrew: “I want you to be successful. I don’t think there’s been a business come to this town short of Liquid that I did not want to see succeed. I have come to your establishment, I have supported every establishment, all of us have supported every establishment in this town. All we ask you to do is, don’t ask us to give you or allow you to do something that nobody else gets to do.”

Kimball: “That’s fair.”

McGrew: “So I just take offense to you saying that we don’t want you to do well. We don’t want you to do excellent. We don’t want you to retire. We do. We don’t want you making, putting us in a corner to where we have to go back and defend something or be the bad guys. All we ask is that you do what we have laid down as best we can as a city to govern our city for the betterment of the whole community. Be the good neighbor that we ask you to be, play the music the way you’re supposed to play it, park the cars the way you’re supposed to park it, and people will come. So that’s it. I’m done.”

Steve Settle (© FlaglerLive)

Steve Settle (© FlaglerLive)

“Our ordinance is crystal clear,” Commission Chairman Steve Settle said. “The outdoor entertainment portion of our ordinance clearly said that you have to meet the parking spaces. You were put through an ordeal at the PAR Board because the debate was all over whether those 12 spaces were provided or not. You would have been there all night had not the agreement been… that it was a simple solution for you just to add the parking lot adjacent, which supposedly was already under lease. So I did believe that you agreed to that, Mr. Kimball, and that certainly was the saving grace for not spending 12 more hours talking about whether or not you met the 12 parking spaces. So I’m at a loss to understand why you would not think that we, as sworn public officials to uphold the ordinance, would not do that. I mean, we have to. I took an oath.”

Commissioner Jane Mealy then made a motion to approve Kimball’s application for outdoor entertainment but it would not take effect until Kimball has a permanent certificate of occupancy (the temporary one expires July 1), which itself would not be issued until all the parking spaces comply with the city’s code, and when the lot he’s renting from Cinelli—if he agrees to rent it—is striped and landscaped by city code. Music speakers must also face east, with adequate sound barriers. The permit would be nullified if the lease on the adjacent lot expires.

The motion passed unanimously.

32 Responses for ““That’s Crap,” McGrew Tells Fuego Del Mar Owner After Accusation of Business Unfriendliness in Flagler Beach”

  1. fla native says:

    Does she kiss anybody with that filthy mouth? The Flagler Beach drama continues as we speak. Stay tuned.

    • Mr mondex says:

      These flagler beach commissioners should have there own tv show it would be a hit!,not just this group but all the past commissioners too bunch of jokers I’m glad I don’t live there any more!,

      • Mr mondex says:

        Didn’t the golden lion have similar issues back in the day they got past their issues a lot quicker when after the manager there became mayor!!, correct me if I’m wrong

    • Ron Hubbard says:

      Fla native: you call that filthy? Where did you grow up, in a nunery? The commission is composed of humans who have to listen to all the wild claims, mandacity and deliberate obfuscation so they can skirt rules, regulations and laws. At some point, the commissioner had enough and her remarks were completely understandable.

      If your ears are so sensitive to ‘impure’ exclamations, than I suggest you be sure not to read the newspapers, do not listen to any current music, do not watch TV shows and be absolutely certain not to view any Hollywood cinema. You will not be a happy camper if you do.

  2. The problem with the curve! says:

    Come on Nick, Get creative!
    You could…….
    Get earphones for everyone in the bar you know like the airlines used to have….
    Put in any band or DJ you want. Each customer could adjust the volume to their liking as loud or soft as they want! and for the Coup de Gras….. ENCOURAGE PATRONS to sing! , and really express their 1st Amendment Rights as much as they feel they want to…..

    And when all that howling starts….
    The neighbors and the City will regret they were not reasonable also when they could have been all along!
    Oh and if you use this idea….\
    Well you’ll owe me a beer! Ha!!

  3. Magnolia says:

    He has a point, he does not own the lot. The complaint I hear the most from Flagler residents is that the music is too loud at night. And at some locations, I would agree. That’s not rocket science if your entertainment is outdoors, with loud speakers.

    What is wrong with a good, soft guitar and singer? Do we have to hear it in Ormond? Good luck in your new business.

  4. RG says:

    Flagler Beach businesses will always have trouble settling in beacause there is no room to grow. More public parking would help. But research on this business owners behalf would of displayed a 70 to 30 percent chance for him to succeed with such a venue. The city will likely not bend anymore on their city codes just because the citizens do have a right to livability issues. He will need to get investors to help him get the parking lot and settle on aprofit margin that he can live with. Every other business on the strip already has played this out. wonder if he talked to those business owners first before he proceeded. This is not the first time this city council has played this Rodeo and it shows by their conviction. Play by the rules Mr.Kimball and you will sleep better a night as the Flagler citizens would also like to do.

  5. DoubleGator says:

    Nick, keep on trucking. Maybe the city should step up to the plate relative to increasing parking generally. Now that is a problem that needs a solving……. unless there is no need for further growth. Folks, the noise and activity is only going to increase as more and more successful businesses locate along A-1-A and that is a certainty.

  6. tulip says:

    @ Magnolia–unfortunately, today’s younger generation has grown up with heavy metal, screaming guitars and voices and, in general, overly loud music. This is the same generation that will be having serious hearing problems by age 50, if not sooner. Music started getting louder and louder and more and more heavy bass–this is what they want. Movies got more and more violent–this is what they want. Anything less, is too tame for them.

    Granted I love up- beat and livelymusic, but not so loud that it hurts my ears or aggravates my senses. There are also times when I want guiet music so as to be calming.

    As they say, Music is food for the sole, and can influence a person’s mood.

  7. Seminole Pride says:

    Another bass ackward city commissioner living in the stone age. Keep it up Flagler Beach and you will become a Ghost town.

  8. confidential says:

    Sorry but such a language from an elected official to a citizen taxpayer and business owner is totally out of line and disrespectful. After all she is working also for that citizen. Anyone that bought properties in the surrounding areas of commercial land should have known better that pace and quiet was not going to be one of the highlights. Same as buying land near the railroad tracks or the Flagler County Airport or me complaining about the Firehouse alarms day and night within 2 blocks from my house.
    The Fuego del Mar owner is correct against FB tying his entertainment permit to the 12 cars parking space lease…as he does not own the land and can’t afford to buy it. If we are to compare situations…then how come they approve the former Pier now Funky Pelican without sufficient parking spaces wher is his additional parking.? because I do not see enough parking. Where are the same amount of parking spaces for Funky Pelican? Is the FB commission treating some restaurants diferential? Lets see how foul mouth McGrew explains this one, without forgetting that the citizens sat her in the commission.

  9. Ron Hubbard says:

    If music starts playing on the upper deck, it will be heard by residents for many blocks around. That is when the city will have to deal with outraged angry residents who cannot sleep or have any quality of life with this noisy, raucous and rowdy commercial neighbor. Also, 12 parking spaces is laughable. 12 spots is inadequate and patrons (drunk) will be parking all over the place and drunks will be careening all around Flagler Beach. Resident’s will NOT be pleased.

    This is a nascent horror story in the making.

    • Helene says:

      I’m hearing arguments about how every business has to obey the same rules. Okay, fair enough. But then can someone please explain why there are so many restaurants that don’t have ANY parking? Where is the parking lot for Funky Pelican, for Fisherman’s Net, Joseph’s, Rocky’s, Golden Lion, and on and on up A1A ? These businesses are using public parking not their own private lots. You got some splainin to do Lucy!

  10. BeachResident says:

    The music doesn’t bother me, I didn’t buy a home in Flagler Beach near a commercial area for that reason :)
    However, I travel past Fuego Del Mar after 9pm from my own restaurant job and have experienced drivers not stopping at stop signs to enter A1A and pedestrians who jump out as if they are strolling on the beach. As a hospitality worker, I respect and admire the hard work and popularity respectively……however some community respect would also be commendable. Don’t sh*# where you eat ;)

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    Can you imagine the uproar if the city leaders did not enforce all the “rules” equally for each business owner and resident? The commissioners have a responsibility to do just that. While crude language has no place in city hall, they have acted out of the best interest of the entire community.

    Reading between the lines here, it appears the owners of the lot (where the additional required parking places would be) are raising their purchase price. . . perhaps because of this situation. However, that negotiation should not cause any regulations to be thrown out the window. Lessons learned, secure everything needed to comply with codes, policies, practice and procedure BEFORE buying and building.

    Hopefully, the details will be worked out and this new business will settle nicely and successfully into our community. Saying that, I must admit I am glad we do not live close to that area. It appears noise may continue to be a problem.

  12. r&r says:

    Go GIRL!!!

  13. Steve Wood says:

    Well I live 3 blocks from this place and DO NOT WANT TO LISTEN to music in my home while I am relaxing in MY HOME of 25 yrs which was long before this place or any other bar was up the street. KEEP IT QUIET OR I will be one of those angry residents up at city hall. And why is it that all the businesses that come into town think they are so special and should have everything going there way. He will go the way of Hurricane Patty after all there protest over there loud music and people got tired of overpriced food and bad service. Its new just keep the noise down.

    • Realty Check says:

      @ Steve, just remember with out business or industry the tax burden falls on the residents, if no one goes and spends money in Flagler Beach than there will be less tax revenue. Who do you think the commission will blame when residential tax rates have to increase? They will blame you, the resident. Palm Coast is heading in the same direction, they put up a million square feet of commercial space yet half sit empty, and either due to unfriendly business practices by the city or the space is so expensive that it cannot be rented. Look at the county, they are broke, do you think the city of FB will be far behind with out these major business tax payers? Just saying think about it there has to be a cohesive answer to both sides.

  14. What do u think says:

    If the restaurant owner is trying to cut corners on the outside, what else is being done cheap?

  15. fla native says:

    @ Ron Hubbard: I get it. I want my elected officials to be professionals and not potty mouthed. They are public servants and need to exercise professionalism and decorum. I don’t know what kind of world you live in but I don’t like filthy mouthed people in journalism, media or entertainment. It’s not very flattering to spew venom at the people who elected you and are responsible for your pay check.

  16. Realty Check says:

    Flagler beach could be wiped out in a year by the lack of patrons if this commission does not wise up and realize the only thing they have is the entertainment. People go there for the beach during the day, but they do not spend a tenth of the money that is pulled in at night by these establishments. Flagler Beach residents would need to pick up the tax burden if these places are forced to shut down or loose money due to no live entertainment.

    • Rick Belhumeur says:

      Flagler beach does not get tax revenue directly from sales within the city, the COUNTY does. Flagler beach does get some of that money back but not in proportion to the amounts that are generated within the borders of Flagler Beach

  17. Magnolia says:

    @Reality Check, have you not noticed the beautiful beach and some of the old favorites in Flagler, like the Golden Lion and others? The residents of Flagler are perfectly happy being able to sleep nights and living on the ocean. They can live without the loud music and the increase in traffic.

    • Realty Check says:

      @ Magnolia, Actually if you want your tax base to remain low you cannot, what revenue does the beach provide? All I am saying is that with out business the tax base falls on the residents and it can get out of control in a heartbeat. That so called traffic brings lots of revenue and tax dollars to our sleepy little town, counties and towns are going broke we need the tax revenue these establishments help to provide, they need to find an acceptable noise level and move on. Florida just took the nations number one spot for forclosures, this means more empty homes being rented and problems with some of the bad renters. Our county has more section 8 houses than Volusia, that my friend is a scary situation for the family town that it is now.

      • Magnolia says:

        @Reality Check, I agree with some of what you say, but many visitors come to Flagler for other things than loud music. It’s a tiny town. Loud music isn’t going to last here.

        We get more visitors every year. When my taxes begin going up, I’ll elect new politicians. This place is as close to perfect as you can get.

  18. Steve Wood says:

    Reality, that’s all fine and good. The QUESTION IS why does the music have to be loud? I will be one to complain about it if it is. That place is not going to make it anyway. Just like Patties did and the city will have nothing to do with it. Ill pay my taxes whatever they are as that’s life so live free and enjoy life.

  19. RG says:

    To Magnolia: I don’t live in Flagler Beach but i visit occasionally from near by Palm Coast. I totally agree with your opinion. You are right its a nice little beach community and it must be annoying to have outsiders coming in pushy ones at that trying to make more and more money off the landscape at everybody else’s expense in peace, parking, and speeding drivers. If they don’t like the rules then they should move on. i don’t want Flagler beach to turn into another Daytona Beach mess either. I am not offended one bit by the Commissioners use of the word Crap cause she sees it for what it was and speaks her mind. We are all adults here and sometimes you have to use certain words to certain people so they understand. Im sure Mr kimball s virgin ears were not damaged one bit.

  20. AMOS says:

    Here We Go Again in Mayberry RFD- AKA Flagler Beach.Anyone Who has been here any lengh of Time has to Remember One of The “BEST” Restaurants We had here, “Carribean Sin”!!!!! The Food, The Atmosphere, The Music Was Just Awsome, But They Were Badgered and Hassled till They Shut Down. We see Police Ticketing Cars at The new restaurant, “Tuscan Grill” All The Time!! The New Fuego Restaurant is So Updated and nice To look at Compared to The Grim old “Mothers” Nightmare of a delapidated Site for Sore Eyes, it Was Pathetic !!!! We Live on Lambert and the Noise from Hurricane Pattys did seem to reflect off the Bridge and Echo Back Toward Us at Night.But We have a Few Questions!! Why Does the City give or Approve Zonning for a Commercial Restaurant if there is Not Enough Parking for the seating Allotted or If Music/Entertainment is going to be an Issue?? This is 2013 and Our Draw for Tourism is The Beach and A1A. This County Has One of The Lowest Job Rate/Pay Rates in the State!!! Rules are Rules So Explain Why Some Have To Abide By Them and Some “DONT”!!! You Can Park a TractorTrailor Backwards on the Side Walk at the golden lion But Dont Worry, Ya Wont See A Ticket Written There and No Sound Barrior for Outside Music either!! As For The Commissioner Using the “CRAP” Word, Get Over It Pal, (FLA NATIVE) No Big Deal, Stick with The real issue, We Wish Fuego The Best. So Abide by The Rules and We hope Ya Do Well, Flaglers Needed a New King of the Beach for Some time Now and this is your Chance to Get “CROWNED”!!!!!

  21. Phil McElrath says:

    “That’s crap”. Really? I don’t care what the citizen speaking had said, for an ELECTED public SERVANT to react in this manner, and at this level of disrespect for the office and citizens, is unprofesional and unacceptable.

    Ms. McGrew, you disrespected yourself, which speaks to your character. That leads me to belive there will be no appology to the citizens, or Mr. Kimball.

  22. Pam says:

    I have searched “Roberts Rules of Order” several times but have not been able to find the meaning of “I think that’s Crap”

  23. Zack says:

    THis is absurd. Yet another case of small-town mentalism keeping a business from being successful. Let’s do everything we can as a community to make it harder and harder for a business to make money here. Every thing about this is laughable. It continues to keep Flagler Beach behind the times, and it is this very mindset that prevents people and businesses moving into this community.

    This type of nonsensical, unwilling to change thinking will be and has been the current downfall of Flagler Beach.

    Yes ma’am, it is crap. And you are full of it.

  24. Cherokee says:

    I live in the Venice Park area and have or many years. I can hear the music from Finns some nights in my home or sitting on my back porch. Why do they continue to get away with loud music. Joy I applaud you however he does need to comply. I hardly ever
    hear music from Dockside restraint area< We will see how the Sweetwater restraint goes.

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